This year's big adaptation is another Sondheim, INTO THE WOODS. After listening to Johnny Depp breathe his way through SWEENEY, I was relieved to see that he had limited screen time as The Wolf, a role that doesn't suffer too much from a breathy delivery. Thankfully, the rest of the cast proved to have voices very suitable for their roles and for the genre in general. Lilla Crawford in particular had the signature piercing tones of Little Red, and Anna Kendrick proved she could move from the a capella pop in Pitch Perfect to the extremely difficult Sondheim score. Just thinking about learning "It's Your Fault" makes my eyes cross, and I have a doctorate in vocal performance!
The most obvious cut was the Act II Prologue ("So Happy"), which is so essential to the original. I imagine he felt (rightly) that this reprise would slow down forward motion of this motion picture. Instead he goes straight from the wedding into the crash of the giants steps. While I missed the symmetry of this semi-reprise of the Act I Prologue, I could certainly understand that the non-geek movie goer would begin to fidget.
Another reprise that I missed much more was "Agony", which goes a long way towards showing that "Happily Ever After" isn't. I really wanted to hear the line about "dwarves", but I was appeased with the brilliant staging in the first round of "Agony." Rob Marshall captured the sheer vanity of the princes so wonderfully. The visual of each of them trying to show a little bit more manly chest was hilarious, and underscored Sondheim's brilliant lyrics.
One aspect that felt unfinished and a little too "happy" was Rapunzel and her prince. I had hoped to see her wandering through the woods with twin babies in her arms wailing her signature motive, but that entire storyline was changed. It left the second act with a bit of a loose end, but the movie didn't suffer too much.
Of course, my biggest fear was Meryl Streep not being able to fill Bernadette Peters' shoes. I need not have worried! In the words of my students.....she killed it.